Hilly Gran Fondo training plan questions

Hi, I just started the “Hilly Gran Fondo” training plan on Feb 22 with an event date set for May 16. I have a few questions about adjusting the plan as we move into Spring here in Georgia.

  1. My club will be starting group rides in 2 weeks after the time change. I love my group rides and I can’t see missing them for the next 2.5 months. I’d like to do at least 1 ride during the week but all the weekday cycling training is SUF videos. Is it ok to skip a video day for an outdoor group ride and if so, are there any adjustments to the rest of the week that I need to make because of it?

  2. Most weekends usually have 1 Endurance outdoor ride either on Saturday or Sunday. Again I like to do longer group rides on Saturdays with my friends. If the plan calls for the Endurance ride on Sunday, is it ok to switch the Saturday/Sunday workouts?

  3. I have never ever in 30 years of cycling done a training plan. My old school way of “training” for a hilly century was to just ride as many miles and hills as possible. There are a couple of long rides towards the end of the plan of maybe 4.5 hours (that’s about 70 miles for me) but I’m concerned about the overall volume of saddle time. Has anyone completed this plan and then done their Gran Fondo and had any issues?

Thanks, David

What are your goals for the event? The more strictly you adhere to the plan, the more fit you are likely to be.

The goal is just to finish. But I’m a big guy, I’m 6’2" and hopefully by ride time I’ll be 225 lbs. The steep grades are what really get me. The ride I’m doing is the Cheaha Challenge in Jacksonville, Alabama for anyone familiar with it. I’ve tried it 3 times and have been unsuccessful for various reasons.

From memory, if you set the plan for Indoor/Outdoor, most of the weekend rides are set as Outdoor. I had completed this one last year and it worked very well for me. Volume works too but if you are short of time, structured HIIT training will be your friend. I already finished All Rounder, Hilly Grand Fondo and Volcano Climbing. I will be repeating them again this year when Winter starts in AU. Good luck!

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Set your plan for indoor/ outdoor and you’ll get weekend outdoor options. Or get a custom plan ( does cost $) and coach will incorporate your specific needs into a plan.

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I think it’s totally fine to switch your endurance rides to Saturday, so you can ride with the group. The caveat is that it needs to stay in zone 2. An actual coach may disagree.

Switching out the weekday rides is trickier. At some point, you’re not really doing the plan as intended, and it may not be optimal. A custom plan is a good option.

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I do this all the time and just work to match my target effort as best I can within the group ride. If it is a base or endurance effort I spend more of my time sitting in with the group. If I have specific interval targets I just move to the front for the climbs and match them then best I can. Not perfect but I can typically get the efforts pretty close. If I absolutely can’t I just go out alone.


That’s what I’m worried about, getting too far away from the plan so that it’s not effective as designed. Thanks!

Yeah I figured it would be ok for the base/endurance ride, it’s the interval type workouts that would be difficult. Thanks for the input!

In concept i don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing the group rides you want to do and then modifying the rest of your week as needed. People are correct that to truly maximize, you need to find a plan and execute it with discipline–for exmaple you wouldn’t see an olympic cross-country skier skipping an endurance workout because she felt like going on a moderate jog that day with her friends–but i don’t think it’s necessary to take it to an extreme if we’re amateurs just trying to enjoy a hilly gran fondo. Rather if we train enough to push ourselves, and rest enough to recover, we’ll get better, and that’s probably enough to achieve many peoples’ goals.

I think the thing to remember is that lot of sufferfest plans involve true intensity (not meaning “sweetspot” here but real, above-threshold intensity) and adding extra work in can run you down if you’re not careful.

So i’d suggest that if you want to keep your group rides, and it sounds like you enjoy them a lot, consider to modify your weeks based on the intensity of the group ride.

Some group rides are hard. If yours is a hard group ride where you attack and try to drop each other etc., then make it very hard, almost like a training race, and replace one of your scheduled hard workouts with an easy day.

Or if you want the group ride to be easy, then really be sure to take it easy, nothing “moderate”. Then execute your sufferfest workouts if you’re able but just switch the days if you need to in order to accommodate your outside riding. This is more total work, but if you keep the group rides easy, you probably can handle it, and you sort of play it by ear.